Political Smarts

Bill Clinton Knew to Thank the Help

How to play the game. Former chief Bill Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, now president of NYU's Brennan Center explains:

In 1996, I was with Clinton when he went up to Keene, New Hampshire to campaign. Picturesque town square. I wandered off and went into the local diner. Asked the woman behind the counter if Clinton had been in there four years before, during the hotly contested 1992 primary. She replied: "Oh, yes. All the candidates were here. In fact, the waitresses all got together and agreed that we would vote as a bloc for the candidate who didn't just shake hands with the owner. Every one of them came in and shook hands just with the owner. All except Clinton. He came in, shook hands with the owner, shook hands with all the waitresses, and then went into the kitchen and shook hands with the busboys and cooks. We all voted for him."